Turkey Alanya, Where the Sun Shines 300 Days a Year
Could it be said that Alanya’s reputation derives from the massive rock which hugs the warm waters of the Mediterranean? Once upon a time YES! But today Alanya is much more renowned for its natural, historical and tourist attractions.
Time travel is not possible yet, so use your imagination and let us take you on a short journey. Just follow us... As rumour has it, the leader of a colonist group, who was about to begin its tremendous adventure in new discoveries along the south coast of Anatolia, consulted the Oracle for the best path to be followed and the best possible location to found a new city. Prophecies were poetic in that time. Considering we are not oracles, let us give it a try. The Oracle gives the clue: FIND THE NEST, DO NOT GET THE REST, YOU WILL SEE THE ROOK and FOLLOW IT AS A BOOK! Name of the rook was KORAKESION so with this prophecy they began the journey knowing nothing but a bird had to be found and followed. After searching for a long time they were about to give up exhausted when someone saw the korakesion trying to fly but it was injured. The group got incredibly excited and shouted: “Wow this is the bird the Oracle told us to follow’’ and the leader spoke: “Follow it till the nest, there we can get the rest.” Going after the bird, they climbed the peninsula where they saw the irresistible beauty of the surrounding area and established Alanya, the name she is known as today.
Alanya has been called different names throughout its history. Korakesion (Land of the Rook) embraced pirates; Kolonoros (Beautiful Mountain) welcomed Byzantines; Alaiye (City of Aladdin the founder), presented its hospitality; Alanya (where the sun shines 300 days) is home for us.
The geographical survey ‘Skylaks’ indicates that Korakesion was first seen on the pages of history 2.400 years ago in the 4th century B.C. Despite the fact that Korakesion did not play an important role in the history, its reputation spread over the ancient world with its solid defence. A rebel named Diodotos provoked piracy in the vicinity of the settlement by using Korakesion as his headquarters for his rebellion against Seleucid king Antiochus VII. After a series of bloody struggles, Alanya became the base of famous Cilician pirates. Of course this annoyed the imperialist Romans, who enjoyed controlling trade with eastern colonies, becauses of their commercial losses on the way to the eastern world. Trade was being threatened by the pirates. Then Rome felt this had to stop and sent Pompey the Great as the commander of Roman Naval Forces.
67 B.C: Today’s beautiful turquoise shores of the Mediterranean were set on fire by hostile battleships. The stunning turquoise colour sea had to withstand inevitable punishment from Pompey because it was the accomplice of pirates, by being painted red. Pirates, given the harshest notice by determined soldiers of the Roman Empire, were dragged out of Korakesion. Smoke, blood, flames and screams describe the unforgettable setting for the triumph of Rome along the shores of Korakesion. Gods and goddesses blessed the Roman victory and peace replaced chaos.
Cleopatra, the last Queen of Egypt, met Mark Anthony, Roman Commander of Cilicia Region, and fell in love immediately. It was a romantic relationship as well as being a dangerous one. They got married in this small but romantic fishing town in 32 B.C. Mark Anthony gave the town to Cleopatra as a wedding gift. However they did not have enough time to enjoy their marriage as they had to be ready for their inevitable destiny. We believe the reason Cleopatra chose Alanya was not only because of its beauty but also the presence of densely planted cedar trees which could be used in the building of warships later.
Some time later the name of the town was changed. Perhaps the legend of the prophecy was forgotten or the new name Kolonoros was thought to suit the city better. The name 'Beautiful Mountain' makes no sense unless you have seen it. When one looks down to Cleopatra Beach to the west and Aladdin Beach to the east, one immediately feels the undeniable glory and one can say “That is the right name for this place, ‘KOLONOROS’.
Of course life in the town was not as active all the time as it had been in the late Byzantine period. It was quiet, calm and warm as always. This time, along with its beauty, Kolonoros was much wiser and received the prayers of priests and a Christian community. Today a monastery and an 11th century church can be seen in the castle as silent witnesses to ancient times.
The historical Peninsula’s harmonic dance with the caring wind sounded like the messenger of a great storm. The name of the storm was the Seljuk Turks! Immigrant Turks were attracted from the cold steppes of central Asia to Anatolia by its fertility and hospitality. They first penetrated Anatolia ( Turkey ) from the east and arrived at their first capital Konya. It was centrally located but unfortunately was not as warm as Kolonoros. In the cold winters of Konya, Alanya was the best choice for the winter residence of the Sultan. Between the years 1226-1232 today’s castle was built on the ancient memories of the town. But it was expected to behave like a Turkish town. For this reason the name of the town was converted to Alaiye after the conqueror ‘Aladdin Keykubad’. A 6.5 km castle wall, 140 watch towers, a dockyard, hundreds of cisterns as part of the water supply, Turkish baths, mosques were built,. The town was successfully Turkified and sailed to new adventures. From then on, a flag with a crescent moon and star has been waving on the Castle Walls of Alanya under the Seljuk and Ottoman dynasties, and now the Republic of Turkey.
It is ALANYA today, named by Mustafa Kemal ATATURK the founder of modern Turkey, when he visited Alaiye in 1935. Both names are very similar but Alanya is more suited to the revised Turkish alphabet.
Things to see
The large popular resort of Alanya lies at one end of a rocky promontory which juts out into the Mediterranean between two sandy beaches. A 13th century Seljuk fortress, one of the most magnificent sights on the coast, crowns the headland. 150 towers punctuate the walls of the well preserved double-walked citadel. Within the outer walls are ruins of mosques, a caravanserai and a covered bazaar; in the inner walls are a ruined cistern and a Byzantine church. Although Alanya's history dates back beyond Roman times, it rose to prominence under the Seljuk Turks when in 1220 Alaeddin Keykubat made it his winter residence and naval base. The remaining buildings reflect the importance of the city in Seljuk times. Besides the impressive citadel, tourists should explore the unique dockyards and the octagonal Kizil Kule (Red Tower). Alanya is a beautiful holiday centre of modern hotels and motels, numerous fish restaurants and cafes. The cafes that ring the harbour have become popular gathering places for tourists. From the town's lovely park, the road runs along the coast to the harbour lined with countless boutiques which tempt tourists with handicrafts, leather, clothes, jewellery, handbags and the amusing painted gourds, a symbol of the area. In August when Alanya hosts a colourful International Folklore Festival the atmosphere is charged with vitality and gaiety. If you enjoy exploring, you should visit the Damlatas Cave to see the misshapen rock formations. Nearby is the Archaeological and Ethnographical Museum. A boat can take you to the three sea grottoes: Fosforlu Magara with it phosphorescent rocks, the Kizlar Magarasi where pirates imprisoned their female captives and the Asiklar Magarasi (Lover's Cave). When the intense sun overpowers you, take a day trip to the Dim Cayi Vadisi, 15 Km east of Alanya where you can relax in the shade of this scenic valley and listen to the river rushing by. Avsallar, about 25 Km from Alanya to the west is a holiday resort with fine sandy beaches. If you travel east from Alanya towards Gazipasa you will discover and no doubt linger on the exceptional beaches.
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